JACK BE NIMBLE

That means, among other things, not fill-
ing your pages with lots of large graphics (large in file size, that is), thus forcing people to sit there while you show them how wunnerful you are at displaying kilometres of pretty, and unnecessary, images, and at sending barrages of advertisements for all sorts of stuff, thus burning up other people’s time as if it did not matter quark.
Some webmasters seem to think bandwidth stretches for ever. They are wrong. And I am sure some of them never bother to test their pages on anything but their Intranets, which of course run like the proverbial parboiled cats. To be user-friendly you should always test your pages on the sort of equipment that people are using out there in what we optimistically call the real world.
That does not mean Pentium III running Windows 2000, Explorer 5, and driving an ADSL line next door to CBD exchange. It means 486 running Windows 95, an earlier version of Explorer, and parallel version of Netscape (both, they do not work the same), driving (or at least emulating) 28K modem over busy line out in the sticks.
Why bother? Partly to win friends and influence people, and partly because for all you know the people out in the sticks might become your biggest customers. In short, to make your business as successful as possible, and to make sure you get the maximum return on your e-dollars.
Overbearing arrogance is another habit of some webmasters. They are the ones who say to themselves: “I am using the latest and greatest browser, processor, etc, so you have to. No excuses. Get an upgrade. Now. I refuse to have anything to do with you until you do.”
And they are not shy about their attitude: They use their software to check on what you are using when you go to their sites, and if it is not what they think you should have they display message that tells you off good and proper and presents you with button so that you can get an upgrade right now.
“I mean right now. Jump, idiot. Jump!” is their subtext. “I know you have oodles of time to do 5Mb download of the latest upgrade. I know you are not in hurry. I know because I am brilliant webmaster. I know everything because I am at the forefront of today’s technology. You are just an ignorant slob. Got it?” Sites that really are friendly accommodate differences, and even if they do build in all the latest softwidgets they also have an alternative version for the people who do not have, cannot afford, or for some reason cannot use, all the latest whims and fancies.
Would you ban from your bricks-and-mortar premises anyone who had the gall to arrive in 1995 Toyota and T-shirt, and welcome only the owners of 2000 BMWs and pinstripes or yachting caps? So why do it on your website? shop is shop is shop is shop is shop. Bricks, electrons, it does not matter. The same rules apply. There are people on both sides of the counter. People selling and people buying.
The dollars in the pockets are the same – and friendly people get more of them coming over the counter. Perhaps the best example on the Internet of site that is passionate about serving people in the best way in the shortest time is Google (www.google.com). Which is one reason it is by far the best search engine (it has also indexed over billion pages, which puts it quantums ahead of any other).
It aims at customers, not at being Flash Harry. It gives nothing but service at blinding speed. No graphics, no advertising; Every other site, take note.

Nobilangelo Ceramalus: Writer, commentator, journalist, desktop publisher, graphics-designer, illustrator, webmaster, photographer.

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